Crowdfunding For Writers

Yes, sometimes there is such a thing as the kindness of strangers. It’s called crowdfunding.

So how does crowdfunding work? You ask for money in a spellbinding way (or as close as you can get to that effect) and then people give you money to pay for all the things you may need for your book or eBook, such as editing services, cover art, purchasing an ISBN, etc. One person may give you a dollar or two, another throws $50 your way, and yet another may give you thousands. The sum of all these individuals forms the crowd. I think you get the funding part.

I’ve highlighted the three sites I deem most writer-friendly and then go on to list some sites that may be of interest if you’re building another type of business or have some other creative endeavor.

These aren’t the only sites available, so you may want to search for additional options if one of these doesn’t suit you. The main piece of knowledge you’ll want is this: crowdfunding sites never take ownership of any portion of your project. To get others interested in you and your project, you do need to dangle some carrots in front of potential donors. There are many ways to do that, but you’ll want to get creative. You want to offer a variety of incentives based on the level of investment that’s made. Maybe, for example, at a lower level you offer a free eBook of your project when it’s completed. At a higher level, you might agree to name a character after someone. You’ll get the hang of it when you go to these sites and check out what others are using for lures.

How much can you ask for in funding? The simple answer is, a little or a lot. I’ve seen writers ask for funding to buy an ISBN number. Others ask for enough to print a U-Haul’s worth of books. There are strategies to how you make your requests on the sites, with each site being different. You’ll want to explore, both to check out the guidelines and to see what some of your fellow creative spirits are doing.

With the subhead, “We Find and Fund Creativity,” Kickstarter embraces a wide array of creative souls. The granddaddy of crowdfunding sites, and also the site that seems to be able to raise higher amounts overall for its participants, Kickstarter makes it easy to participate. Perhaps because it has been around the longest, competition can be fierce. Most of the projects I viewed showed a high level of professionalism in how the videos and proposals were presented. With writing projects that can net over half a million, it behooves a writer to spend time putting together great graphics and a knock-’em-out video.

The facts:

• free to sign up and start a campaign
• you must set a funding deadline. If you don’t raise the amount you declare you want to raise by that deadline, funds are returned to contributors. It’s all or nothing, baby.
• fees are 5%
• 3%-5% additional fees for third-party payment processors
• friendly tutorials and easy-to-navigate systems

Proud that they have funded over 60,000 projects, IndieGoGo’s offerings range from the funky to the “fantabulous.” While funds raised don’t seem to be as grand as some amounts generated in Kickstarter, there is a definite advantage in IndieGoGo’s funding model if you intend to create your project regardless of funds raised. How so? Writers won’t have to sweat it if they’re inches away from having the whole enchilada funded–and then have the funds yanked back if they don’t quite make it. With one of IndieGoGo’s options, you reap all the benefits of your efforts even if the amount funded doesn’t come close to what you declare you need.

The facts:

• free to sign up and create a campaign
• unlike some crowdfunding sites, the amount raised doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You have the option of setting up inside the Fixed Funding program, which means if you don’t raise all that you request, you get zip and everything raised goes back to the contributors. Outside of the Fixed Funding program, however, you can get funding in part, or if it works out that way, for the entire project.
• fees of 4% to IndieGoGo are assessed on all money you raise if you reach your funding goal
• if you don’t reach your funding goal, there’s a hefty 9% cut for IndieGoGo (but at least you still get something)
• approximate 3%-5% additional fees for third-party payment processors

While RocketHub doesn’t have a category for publishers (just so you know, you’re considered a publisher, not a writer, on any of the sites) like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, they do have a category for “creatives.” That’s the shoe that fits writers. RocketHub gets creative itself with their funding model by asking its Creatives to reach out to Fuelers (those with dollars to spare). It gets a bit complex here, but the gist of it is that they want you to direct people you know to the site. Hopefully, those people “fuel” you and others, and, it would stand to reason, some of those who arrived via the request of other Creatives may want to throw some moolah your way, too. As far as I can determine (told you it was complex) you don’t absolutely have to bring in Fuelers, but you get something rather like brownie points if you do. Those brownie points seem to make a difference in how you’re funded.

The facts:

• there’s no charge to launch a project
• you must have a financial goal and a time limit
• time limits can range between 15 to 90 days
• 4% RocketHub fee, if you reach your financial goal
• 8% fee if you don’t reach your goal
• additional 4% transaction fee for the credit card processing

Here are a few more funding possibilities (not all for writers, but maybe you’ve got a side project). Naturally, you’ll want to check the rules and funding details, as things can change between the time I wrote this and the time you read it and are prepared to implement your plans.

So, yes, the kindness of strangers exists. Just don’t put them off by being boring, sloppy, or by failing to deliver on all those excellent goodies you promised. We all want a repeat performance, both for you and for those who are charmed by your talents.

Want to learn other ways to make some money before your book is published? One of the classes I teach shows how to get sponsorships (beyond crowdfunding) for your creative projects. I’ve gotten sponsorships for various projects and for various amounts, ranging from tiny to a million bucks. To get in touch, email me at Please give me 48 hours to respond.