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    3 Successful Authors: 3 Successful Crowdfunding Platforms

    by Carla King
    December 5, 2013
    Photo by jessamyn west on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
    Click on the image for the full series.  Original photo by Bruce Evans on Flickr.

    Click on the image for the full series.
    Original photo by Bruce Evans on Flickr.

    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.

    "Authors are choosing to crowdfund their work, and there are now options for them on which platform to use. "

    Below are excerpts from each case study with links to expand their stories at the end of each section.

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    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?

    Kickstarter Logo, Crowdfunding, Allan Karl, Author Success StoryAllan 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).

    Allan Karl, Worldrider, Kickstarter author successCover Forks the Book Allan Karl Kickstarter Author SuccessKickstarter 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.”

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    Here’s Karl’s story and tips.

    Pubslush Crowdfunding for Authors and Books LogoJanna 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.

    Janna Leyde, He Never Liked Cake, Pubslush Author SuccessHe Never Liked Cake, by Janna LeydePubslush 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.”

    Click here for Leyde’s story.

    Indiegogo Crowdfunding Platform Author Success StoryPenny Rosenwasser – Raised $10,097 on Indiegogo

    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 Indigogo Author Success Jewish Women Hope into Practice

    Hope into Practice, Penny Rosenwasser, Indiegogo Author SuccessPenny 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.

    Read about Rosenwasser’s experience.

    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.

    Tagged: authors authors as entrepreneurs crowdfunding ebooks entrepreneurs self-publishing
    • Joe Follansbee

      It’s important to note that the vast majority of crowdfunding efforts fail. According to PC World, two-thirds of crowdfunding campaigns fail to reach even 20 percent of their goal. I personally know of a number of book crowdfunding campaigns which have fizzled. If you’re an aspiring author believing that crowdfunding your book is the easy route to finding money to invest in a project, you’d be wrong.

      • Justine Schofield

        Hi Joe,

        You’re right, it’s important to realize that crowdfunding is not easy, it requires a lot of work, but so does publishing a book. The same marketing and PR efforts involved in selling your book are required for a successful crowdfunding campaign, which many people don’t realize and that may be why there are so many failed campaigns.

        I think what we can learn from all these stories is that hard work, dedication and passion is needed in order to be successful in both the crowdfunding and publishing industries.

        Also, finding the right platform is key. Pubslush offers flexible funding for authors, which helps lessen the financial burden of self-publishing.

      • Hi Joe, thanks much! Yep, it’s not easy, which is the lesson learned from these authors. But they outline their own processes so that authors who follow can better succeed, starting early and involving as much of their community as possible. Each author shares their struggles, failures, and successes. Much appreciated!

    • Crowdfundingguide

      Agree with points given here. Naturally, crowdfunding is NOT a financial free-for-all. It’s work, and hard work at that. Anyone who starts a campaign believing otherwise is in for a shock.

      But crowdfunding is a way to give power back to the independent artist / writer. If they have a following, an audience, if they can rally the troops, then more power to them – literally.

      Just as Carla said, these authors share their journey, what they learned, etc, and anyone thinking about taking the same journey would do well to study these stories and learn from them.

    • We are midway through a Kickstarter campaign to fund an illustrated “Alice in Wonderland” book. We had the advantage of a classic title, and finished pictures, but we are off to a great start. Our goal was 35k, which we met in 55 hours (thanks in large part to inclusion in a Kickstarter newsletter) and we are now at 58k with 13 days to go. You can view it here: . Kickstarter is a huge amount of work when taken seriously. But we would argue that all of the work is valuable and transferable, even if you don’t meet your goal. We have learned more about marketing and social media in the last month than in ten years combined. When thinking of crowdfunding, consider it not just as a source of income but as a way of focusing your efforts, getting valuable feedback, finding new fans, and sharpening your message. And, actually, the stats aren’t too bad for Kickstarter, if you take into account the fact that so many creators simply post and walk away. (Anyone who is 0% funded at a week didn’t even try.) If you’re interested in crowdfunding, we highly recommend crowdcrux.com and also the various groups on LinkedIn. (They are full of generous mentors.) Best of luck!

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