Funding a Book with Kickstarter: Crowdsource Fund Raising

Imagine yourself on a vast playing field in a sports stadium—a dream from childhood come true. The turf you’re standing on is a rich emerald green under the bright stadium lights. For a brief moment, you’re in awe that you’ve finally made it big as you scan the thousands of faces cheering you on.

The stands are filled to capacity—more than 65,000 souls—and the roar of the crowd is all but deafening with only seconds left in the game. You and your teammates have been moving like a well-oiled machine, playing all-out the entire game. Now it’s down to the wire. The other team is pushing hard to score, but you and your crew shut them down just in time. The game is over, and victory is yours!

What an amazing feeling to aim for something and hit the mark. This is true not only in sports but in business and life as well. When you set a goal and commit to it, all kinds of strange, happy coincidences conspire to bring you what you’ve decided upon.

Author Michael Tetteh knows first-hand just how true this is. Michael had that experience I just described, playing professional soccer for the wildly popular Seattle Sounders. It was his fondest dream, as a nine-year-old boy living in Ghana, to play professional soccer.

Michael’s journey from a humble African village to living the life of a sports celebrity in a major U.S. city only happened because he’d taken that first step—setting a goal. He followed his dream and used his natural gifts to become a successful soccer player.

Michael is now retired from the sport and has written an account of his unique and glamorous story. His book, Giftocracy, is based on the idea that everyone has a gift—a unique talent that when channeled, is your unique path to success. Michael set a goal to raise money to cover the marketing costs of his book launch. How did he accomplish this? He’s used the Crowdfunding Website Kickstarter.

Reaching Your Goal with Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a huge worldwide community of like-minded people offering each other support. The website’s mission is to help artists, authors, performers and other creative people. It’s a platform where everyday people can raise the money needed to reach creative goals. Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, the site has helped over 12 million people fund a project. More than 115,562 projects have been funded, with a total of $2.7 billion pledged.

In my travels, the topic of funding a book release came up during a discussion with one of my clients. She asked if I knew anything about crowdfunding generally and Kickstarter specifically. In fact, I do have experience with it. I told her that if she raised $25,000 to fund her book project, then she would have the budget to launch a healthy marketing campaign to gain nationwide attention to her ideas.

As you might imagine, my client was enthusiastic and wanted to get started right away. Here are four steps I gave her to fund a book launch with Kickstarter.

AMOUNT: Determine your fundraising goal. Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  • Raise $7,000 – 10,000 to self-publish your book, including graphic design and layout.
  • Raise $20,000 to work with an experienced ghostwriter.
  • Raise $25,000 to hire a professional publicist to schedule a media tour.
  • Raise $250,000 if your aspirations are to run a marketing campaign that will produce a New York Times bestseller.

APPEAL: Create excellent visual photography assets to represent your book or your ideas. You’ll need these for your Kickstarter project page so people can see what they’re buying into. You’ll also want to record a thoughtful, heartfelt or funny video about your project—about 3 to 7 minutes long. You want to move people and get them excited about supporting your cause. Besides using photos and video, Kickstarter Live is now an option to stream live video of your appeal.

BONUSES: Create an inventory of bonuses that you will give away with each level of donation. Here is an example of how a Business author might structure their giveaway.

  • $10 for a copy of the eBook and a custom mug.
  • $25 for a pre-release signed copy of your book.
  • $50 for a 5-pack of signed books for your staff.
  • $100 for a nice gift item, with a copy of your book.
  • $250 for a nicer gift item, with a copy of your book.
  • $1,000 for an event such as a dinner for four with the author.
  • $2,500 for a free speaking engagement to an organization of your choice (charity event, corporate retreat or another gathering).

COMMUNICATE: Write good copy for your landing page. In fact, unless you have a marketing degree, hire a professional to write your copy for you. It needs to pack a punch. Then once you launch your campaign, talk it up! Tell your friends and promote the campaign in your social circles. Know that it takes several reminders to fund a campaign fully. You’ll want to be active on social media and send plenty of emails. Many successful authors even pick-up the phone (gasp) to personally ask people to support their campaigns.

When you start thinking like a professional fundraiser, you’ll do great! When people like your Kickstarter project, they love to join your journey and see it as a joy to support your cause. Remember to thank them for that precious support and then follow up when your project is done with a hand-written note.

You can contact a team member at Made for Success Publishing to brainstorm ideas for your campaign from the successful book campaigns we’ve tracked over the years. Good luck, and good hunting!

Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.