Several years ago, the idea of “crowdfunding”—creating a project on an online platform and requesting financial support from virtual strangers—was utterly foreign. It’s now a five billion dollar industry. Many authors, self-published or otherwise, have taken to several crowdfunding sites and raised money for their books, from editing to cover design to producing fully colored picture books.

Crowdfunding seems like an accessible goldmine, but is it too good to be true?

Some of the most successful individuals with projects held through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe were already well-known, or nearly so—people like Amanda Palmer, frontwoman for the band the Dresden Dolls, who reportedly received $1.2 million on Kickstarter to fund the creation of a new album and book, and comic writer/self-published author Ryan North, whose book “To Be or Not To Be” is still reportedly the highest publishing Kickstarter project ever.

But what about you? Can you also lead a successful crowdfunding campaign to get your book published to the highest-quality imagined?

Is #crowdfunding a viable option for #selfpublishing #authors? Find out here! Share on X

Columnist Molly Reynolds of thinks so, if you follow the principles of successful crowdfunders from the past. She discusses in this article how PopBasic, a clothing brand based out of San Francisco, used their mailing list as a sounding board for feedback and to build awareness about their upcoming Kickstarter campaign six months in advance. So even if you don’t have a huge audience akin to the size of Palmer’s, it doesn’t mean that you can’t engage the fans/friends/family you do have in preparation. In fact, you must—for a majority of these sites it’s an all-or-nothing concept, so if you don’t reach your monetary goal in the time allotted, you receive nothing.

Another way to ensure a successful campaign is by actively posting updates about the project to your backers on the crowdfunding site, and showcasing your personality. You’re asking people to support your book project before it’s begun (or has been completed), so how do you convince them it’s a worthy cause? Create a fantastic video! And it doesn’t have to be professionally filmed—in fact, this amateur video by band Waterdeep took humor and personality to a new level, and led to a very successful campaign.

Check this out: Indiegogo CEO Danae Ringelmann offers three tips on how to ensure a fully backed campaign.

Finally, utilize social media. Just as selling books as a self-published author relies heavily on marketing, so too does crowdfunding one’s campaign need social media to get the word out. Post about the campaign on your website, send regular newsletters to your subscribers, grow your mailing list, make YouTube videos discussing your writing project and plans, and post relevant tweets and Facebook updates. Sound like a lot? Well, that’s because it is.

Julie Keck of MediaShift cautions potential crowdfunding hopefuls that it is a grueling process. Yes, frequent social media updates and online presence increase your chances for backers, but most campaigns last between 30 and 60 days—that’s a long time, and a huge commitment. It’s important to attend to daily responsibilities, and of course, your own health, to ensure that it’s an enjoyable and fruitful experience for you and your supporters.

Come back next time to learn about the different types of crowdfunding options that are perfect for self-published authors!

Additional Resources:

7 Kickstarter Mistakes We Made on MyBookTable by Thomas Umstattd on Author Media

Top 10 Crowdfunding Sites on gofundme

10 Secrets of Highly Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns on IgnitionDeck