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The pros and cons of crowdfunding: is it the right route for you?

The pros and cons of crowdfunding: is it the right route for you?

By Claudia Besant |

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

PROS

Low risk

Crowdfunding doesn’t require a huge investment from authors as rewards don’t have to be fulfilled unless the funding goal is met. You won’t be under any obligation to deliver the rewards in these circumstances, so the risk is incredibly low. With some platforms, such as Indiegogo, you don’t have to reach the triggering goal to take the funding offered – but you would then be liable for fulfilling the pledge gift if successful.

Promotion and social media

Using a crowdfunding platform can support the promotion of your book idea, increasing exposure of your campaign and brand. Crowdfunding campaigns also provide journalists and influencers with an exciting and timely news story to report on. Compared to standard product launches from big companies, crowdfunding campaigns offer a story that can be followed on a more intimate level over time. People may not only go on to back your book idea, but share their excitement about the project on their various social media channels.

Building an audience and community

Launching a crowdfunding campaign provides the opportunity for potential backers, who might otherwise never have come across your project, to learn about your book idea. These strong communities already have a large network of potential supporters, with some past campaigns having been backed by millions and millions of people. It does and can happen. There are probably a lot more people familiar with the idea of crowdfunding than you may initially think, and it is this familiarity that will make it easier to raise money as potential funders already understand the crowdfunding process.

Easy to set up

Crowdfunding platforms are made to be straightforward solutions for those looking to harness technology in order to launch their campaign and get as many people interested as possible. Users don’t have to worry about setting up payment processing, SSL, an online store, etc., as this has all been provided on a simple platform that even the technically challenged will be able to use effectively.

Only small donations needed

Crowdfunding allows authors to leverage lots of small donations to raise a larger total amount. You’re not trying to convince people to part with huge amounts of money; instead, you’re trying to intrigue potential readers and get as many people to believe in your book as possible, which only requires a small contribution from them to turn your idea into a reality.

Feedback and research source

Not only does crowdfunding provide authors with a sense of validation – the reassurance that people are actually interested in your future book – but backers are a great data source for developing your products. You will be able to ask your backers some key questions as you continue to develop and improve your concept. Without crowdfunding it would be far more difficult to find a list of engaged people who are already so invested in your book idea. Plus, once you’ve successfully funded your campaign, you can reach out to your backers for valuable feedback on different elements of the book, such as the cover design, structure and other details.

Transparency

Communicating with your backers through a crowdfunding platform is incredibly simple. Updates are encouraged throughout the process in order to keep backers engaged and up to date on how the project is developing thanks to their funding. This will ultimately create a group of loyal supporters who will most likely go on to back your future projects too. However, transparency can also be seen as a negative to some authors, as with the good will often come the bad. You’ll not only have to communicate your achievements and successes with your backers, but also any major or minor setbacks, which can be quite embarrassing depending on the issue.

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CONS

Crowdfunding takes time

Although the time spent on a crowdfunding campaign will be less than a traditional fundraising route, you’ll still have to invest quite a bit of time into making your campaign the very best it can be in order to acquire backers. And this is only the beginning. The next steps – publishing and promoting your book – will be even more time consuming, as well as continuously communicating with your backers so you can keep up momentum and use them as advocates for more pledges. You’ve got to be dedicated and plan effectively if your project is going to get the attention it deserves and reach your funding goal.

Investment of money

Authors can launch a crowdfunding campaign for free but, realistically, a bit of money will need to be spent. You may want to create a prototype of your book to really showcase your vision and get people excited for the end result. Promotional materials, such as photography or videography, may also be required, as well as some digital advertising to get your campaign seen by more people. One of the first things you should do when planning your campaign is set a budget, and then try to stick to it.

Hard to budget exact costs

Since Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter of over $40m, many authors are using crowdfunding to raise the funds for a special print run – but it’s difficult to know how much everything will cost in the end. Making sure you know the design decisions that will be made during the production of your book will be key to determining your goal, so start thinking about this as early as possible. Will your book be cloth-bound? Will it have gold foiling? Will it include a plate section of beautiful full-colour photos? It’s tricky to know all the answers, but you need to have considered them if you want to have the best chances of succeeding.

An existing audience

Marketing can be really difficult, especially if you lack an existing audience. It will be far easier to build support for your idea and acquire donations from people already familiar with you and your work than someone who is starting from scratch and trying to build a following from nothing. This isn’t to say it can’t be done, but it’s worth considering that it might take a significant amount of time to market your campaign and get the backing you need.

Prepare for the possibility of failure

You should never let the chance of failing stop you from trying. But it should be recognised that the failure of a crowdfunding campaign will be public, so this is something you might have to prepare to face. An unsuccessful campaign, however, doesn’t mean the demise of your book idea. In most cases, authors will revise, improve and relaunch at a later date or work out a way to fund their project from a different source. One failed attempt doesn’t have to be the end.

Platform fees and rules

If you decide to use a crowdfunding platform to launch a campaign, you’ll most likely have to pay a fee. Although the fee isn’t too expensive, if you already have a large existing audience that will believe in your book idea then it may be worth considering crowdfunding privately, without a platform. Most platforms will also have strict rules that need to be followed, granting you less freedom and control over your project. This may be another reason to consider private crowdfunding or acquiring the necessary funds from an alternative source.

Plagiarism

Launching your unfinished book idea on a public platform before you can actually deliver it will, of course, increase the risk of people stealing that idea. Though this is a risk that comes with pretty much anything, no idea is truly safe from being copied. However, what will make your idea successful over others is dependent on your execution. It’s vital that you ensure you’ve done your research, planned your campaign and built an expert team of professionals to help you properly publish your book when the time comes.

Delivering on your promise

Once you’ve achieved your funding goal, you need to deliver the project to your backers. This may seem obvious, but it’s often easier said than done as many crowdfunding campaigns struggle to plan, budget and time-manage effectively enough to fulfil pledge rewards. However, whitefox Publishing helps authors not only to bring their vision to life in the form of the absolute highest quality book, but to turn it around between six and twelve months. whitefox is the team of publishing professionals needed to deliver your promised book project on time to your supporters and the rest of the world.

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