Crowdfunding a novel challenges an author not only to write a book against a deadline, but convince enough people to pay for it upfront within that timeframe too. There are several lessons I learned when writing The Fox of Richmond Park.
Crowdfunding involves offering perks to those who want more than just your book. One such perk I offered was a print of a painting of the magpie that features in my novel. I’d previously sold them on Etsy and it made sense to offer these to willing backers.
Most crowdfunding projects need a video that describes the work being created. YouTube lets people skip adverts after five seconds because advertisers know if you haven’t hooked viewers by then, they’re not interested. Make sure the first five seconds of your video is as exciting as possible.
Many projects allow backers to see a work in progress, perhaps as an early version of a chapter or a prototype of a product. Unlike traditional authors who only get critiqued by editors, a crowdfunded author may also receive feedback from backers. Prepare to take this with a pinch of salt - stick to your vision but stay open to the views of your supporters.
At the start of my journey there was excitement about the project and eagerness to get going; at the end, there was a rush to finish but a need to ensure the work didn’t seem hurried. It’s a long process, and so pacing yourself is key - set milestones throughout your project and make sure you stay disciplined about not doing too much or too little, too soon or too late.
You may be so busy working on your project that you forget to keep your backers in the loop. The more you talk to them and share your journey, the more they’ll be excited — and potential backers may see this excitement and want to back you too! It’s like a high street shop queue - a new store with a giant line of people outside will have passers-by curious as to what all the fuss is about.
Crowdfunding rarely works for a big business — it’s a personal thing. It’s important people feel they’re supporting you, not a big corporate. The more personal your communication and promotion, the better.
In school we’re taught to succeed; we’re not taught to fail. But failing on parts of your journey will help you get better in the long run and it’s important to embrace this and not beat yourself up when you get something wrong. I’ve learned that failure is a better teacher than succeeding through luck.
At the end of the day, there are no guarantees in crowdfunding. A great idea can be let down by poor execution, just as a terrible idea can be made successful with clever marketing. Good luck on your own journey!