Crowdfunding has taken off in the last few years as a way of supporting entrepreneurial, artistic, or personal endeavors. With crowdfunding services like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Patreon, individuals or small teams can reach out to the public for funding instead of going to studios, publishers, or investors. Large numbers of individuals can contribute small amounts of money to a project, and fund it to completion.
There is no definitive “best” crowdfunding service for writers — each has its strengths and weaknesses. Just remember, a successful crowdfunding campaign depends strongly on your connection and communication with your fans. Your fans don’t care what service you use, just as long as it’s easy for them to find and contribute to, and again, that’s based on managing your social media well. Of course, the services themselves have built-in audiences (Kickstarter being the largest by a wide margin), which means your project could gather new fans through the site itself, but that should be secondary to communicating with your fans — they’ll help spread the word, too! The things to pay attention to with each service are the funding flexibility options and fees. If you’ve picked the platform that’s right for you, make sure you do some research about how to create a successful campaign. Click here and here for detailed comparisons of various platforms.
Specifically for books, Pubslush provides extra tools specific to marketing your book. Since the site is geared only towards book projects, the user base is much smaller than that of Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Kickstarter is a household name, so people know what they’re signing up for when contributing to a Kickstarter project. If you’re telling your fans about your Pubslush campaign, be sure to tell them “it’s the author’s Kickstarter.”
Unbound is another service dedicated to readers and writers, but with a unique spin: Unbound is built on the premise of fan feedback first. Instead of pitching projects, authors pitch ideas to their fans. If your fans like an idea, they can back it before you start writing.
The most popular crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter is restricted to creative projects only, so it’s a solid choice for writers. Kickstarter functions as an all-or-nothing service, where the contributions of your backers must reach a set monetary goal within a certain amount of time. If your goal isn’t reached, you won’t receive any funding, and backers will get their money back. Click here for an in-depth look at some of the pros and cons of using Kickstarter.
Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows for “flexible funding,” meaning your donations don’t have to reach a minimum goal for you to receive your funds. The catch is that you’ll have to pay a 9% fee instead of a 4% fee if your goal is not met.
Become an active patron for your favorite creator. Unlike goal-oriented crowdfunding services, Patreon offers either a subscription-based model, where patrons can support authors with a name-your-price monthly fee, or a per-project model, where each project has its own minimum funding goal. These models work well for writers putting out a consistent body of smaller works.
Examples of author Patreons:
GoFundMe is the most flexible service, with flexible funding, deadlines, and project types. Most of the other platforms depend on rewarding your backers with perks depending on the level of their contribution, but GoFundMe doesn’t require those. The platform benefits from having a well-thought-out plan, but it also works as a last-minute way of getting out of a financial bind. If you’re going that route, you’ll need a pretty trusting fan base.
Rockethub works much like GoFundMe, but also has ties to A&E Networks, so your project may receive extra funding and exposure from A&E through their “Project Startup” initiative. This service probably isn’t suited to most writers.