Authors are choosing to crowdfund their work, and there are now options for them on which platform to use. The question is: Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Pubslush? To explore the pros and cons of those platforms, I interviewed a successful author from each of them to find out why they chose it and how they succeeded.
Below are excerpts from each case study with links to expand their stories at the end of each section.
When you read through these case studies, you’ll probably notice some common themes. All of them are nonfiction authors, though many fiction books succeed as well. All of them are dedicated to spreading a message. And all of them have passion, professionalism and platform. Do you see any additional commonalities?
Allan Karl – Raised $40,994 on Kickstarter
Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, more than 5.2 million people have pledged more than $900 million, funding nearly 53,000 creative projects like films, games, books, music, art, design and technology. Project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing — projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money. To date, nearly 44 percent of projects have reached their funding goals. Kickstarter takes 5 percent of the funds raised. Funders pay via Amazon Payments (only), which then will apply credit card processing fees (between 3 percent and 5 percent).
Kickstarter author Allan Karl took a three-year motorcycle trip around the world. Friends, family and fans followed his journey on his WorldRider blog, and when he got home he wrote about it in the form of a full-color hardcover travel narrative and cookbook titled “FORKS: Three Years. Five Continents. One Motorcycle. A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection.” Total, 546 backers on Kickstarter pledged $40,994 — nearly double his $22,000 goal — to print and publicize the self-published book. Allan used his experience as principal of Clearcloud, a digital marketing consultancy, to create a post-journey keynote speaking career and a professional-quality coffee-table book marketed as “combining the best of Anthony Bourdain with Paul Theroux and National Geographic Adventure in a full-color, high-quality book that will bring the splendor of the world into your home and on your table.”
Janna Leyde – Raised $15,230 on Pubslush
Pubslush is different in that it focuses on authors. It offers flex-funding, which means you keep the money as long as it surpasses $500. If you need help, the Author Assist program costs $25, taken — if you succeed — from the total funds earned from supporters. Pubslush takes 4 percent, plus third-party processing fees. It also donates one children’s book to a child in need for every book sold through their platform. Pubslush was founded in 2011 as a press (with crowdfunding), but its emphasis shifted to crowdfunding (with a press) in August 2012. It is the only platform that keeps your page up and links a “buy” button to your completed book for sale.
Pubslush author Janna Leyde was 14 years old when her father was in an automobile accident, leaving him with traumatic brain injury. The event drastically shifted her idyllic childhood and became the seed for “He Never Liked Cake,” the only memoir about TBI that tells the story from the child’s perspective. She used Pubslush to raise money to publish and market the book. Her life as a yoga teacher and a freelance writer/blogger on topics ranging from health and wellness to yoga and brain injury feeds the theme of her second book, “Yoga for Brain Injury: Move, Feel, Think.”
Indiegogo was founded in 2007 as a place where people who want to raise money can create fundraising campaigns to tell their story and get the word out. It charges 4 percent of the money you raise if you meet your goal or 9 percent if you do not.
Penny Rosenwasser reached her $7,500 goal in eight days, enabling her take her self-published book “Hope into Practice: Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite Our Fears,” on the road.
A self-described rabble-rouser for justice, activist and author of two previous books, Rosenwasser is also a former performing folk musician, KPFA radio host/producer, women’s music networker, festival organizer and diversity workshop leader. She is former Jewish Caucus Chair of the National Women’s Studies Association and a founding board member of Jewish Voice for Peace. She teaches an Anti-Semitism/Anti-Arabism class with a Palestinian colleague at the City College of San Francisco.
Carla King is an author, a publishing consultant, and founder of the Self-Publishing Boot Camp program providing books, lectures and workshops for prospective self-publishers. She has self-published her adventure travel stories since 1994 on the internet and in print. Find her workshop schedule and buy the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors on SelfPubBootCamp.com.