Getting Others to Pay for Your Self-Publishing Expenses


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Image via Pixabay

This article was updated in 2016 in the post: Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider? Please check that out.

It’s been called the no money, no problem solution in self-publishing, I’m of course talking about crowd funding.  Crowd funding got its start in response to a very dark past, when self-publishing was much like gambling since it was unlikely an author would ever recoup their initial investment.  In those primitive days, aspiring authors would charge all their publishing expenses on credit cards or withdraw from retirement accounts in order to make their dreams come true.  Not understanding how publishing works, many indies watched their life savings depleted by expensive vanity publishing contracts and unscrupulous con artists.

Since we indie authors are running a business, why don’t we raise capital like a normal business?  Just because some editor or agent says no, doesn’t mean a book should die.  There are several online sites that industrious authors can use to fund their self-published projects like; Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and RocketHub just to name a few.

The Dark Side of Crowd Funding

According to the rules of most popular crowd funding sites, there is 2-9% cut of all money raised.  However the fees don’t end there, some banks and middle men like in the case of Kickstarter, (Amazon Payment) takes another 3-5% for credit card processing fees.  Also, authors can’t forget the tax man because according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, all money raised on a crowd funding site is 100% taxable.  That means authors are going to have to carefully do the math and possibly raise their monetary goals to accommodate these additional expenses.

In this Ted Talk, performance artist Amanda Palmer, encouraged artists to “ask without shame.”  Amanda by the way, holds the record on Kickstarter for raising the most money for a music project with over one million dollars in donations.  The money she raises not only goes to fund the project but also allows her and her band to giveaway their work free of charge.  In an age where most artists discourage torrents and file sharing Amanda and her band actually encourage it.  This is blatantly counter intuitive to most corporate business models in which freebies are used only as a short term marketing ploy.  On the flip side, Amanda’s strategy is more long term, using digital music as a promotional tool, rather than a money making venture.  As the industry argues over .99 songs, Amanda and her band have successfully cut out the middle man and are setting up their next tour.

So how does an author repeat this success?

Social Media to the Rescue?

Many indie artists take to the web by guest posting on popular blogs, or even advertising on social media sites like Facebook to raise awareness for their self-publishing endeavor.  Those who have a larger social media following generally do better than those that don’t.  We’re talking about 25,000+ “engaged” followers.

Here are a few tips on how to run a successful campaign:

  • Successful campaigns are funded by tiny increments, so set the pledges to smaller amounts like $5 or $10.
  • Campaigns with videos explaining your project and enthusiasm seem to do better than those without them.
  • Have a compelling blurb explaining your project with a call to action.
  • Promote your project on social media because most projects are funded 80% by family and friends.
  • Fund other projects in popular niches like movies, gaming, or music to get visibility on the site as well as some good karma.

Crowd funding can be a viable path for the more savvy author who already knows how to promote a book since the steps are so similar, but even then, there are no guarantees of a successful crowd funding project.

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21 thoughts on “Getting Others to Pay for Your Self-Publishing Expenses

  1. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success. If you know of any please share. Cheers!

    1. They make templates that are suppose to help rank you higher on the search engines try Genesis by WordPress. It’s what all the bloggers are using these days.

  2. This design is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  3. Hi and I am glad to see some action on here you have been missed at least by Moi. Good luck and congratulations! Your timing by the way is uncanny… I only waited for the second part to be polite… 😉

    1. Thanks, for being polite:) I’ve missed blogging, but I had to edit my novel. Too bad, I don’t have a clone or an assistant *Sigh!*

  4. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thanks

  5. You don’t need kickstarter when so many companies like CreateSpace and Lightning Source allow you to self publish for very cheap. If you use a vanity publisher that’s not self publishing anymore. I just finished writing a guide to help authors who want to create and self publish a print book with a lot of images and pictures. I’m hoping it will help from start-to-finish and keep an independent author’s costs low. Please check it out and let me know what you think! 🙂 http://SpiritualAnimal.com/guide.html

    1. I think what you’re doing on your site is great, where where you when I was starting out? LOL!

      Anyway, I disagree with your sentiment, authors need more than just images and ISBNs we also need a copyrights, professional editing and sometimes professional book designers in case our books are difficult too format. Let’s be real, not everyone has a reserve of cash ready to bail them out of trouble. Many people here in the U.S. (40%) are living at the poverty level. This is where crowd sourcing can be a life saver.

      Guy Kawasaki talks about his challenges in his book APE when his charts and pictures wouldn’t format properly. After several attempts, he and his co-author threw in the towel and called a professional to format his book. Indie authors who are living hand to mouth can ‘t afford to do things like that.

      Again, good luck with your site, I hope it really takes off!

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