What would it be like to fund your first novel with a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter?
A blog post on author Josh Fruhlinger’s site has the scoop.
Kickstarting a debut novel
Fruhlinger’s debut novel, The Enthusiast, came out in late 2015. It has more than 80 ratings and 20+ reviews on Goodreads. It’s available in hardcover, paperback and as an ebook… and it was funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign.
Fruhlinger’s blog post says it all: “I Kickstarted my first novel, sold 1,319 books and made $4,369.14 (so far) — and so can you (maybe) (under fairly specific circumstances).”
His initial goal was to pay himself for his time writing the novel, since it would, in theory, eat into his potential freelance-writing earnings time. He was more than successful in this endeavor, and his goal of $6,666 was met – and far exceeded, totalling more than $20,000. Fruhlinger was able to put this extra cash toward tasks like printing costs, editorial assistance, design and promotion.
Dealing with unexpected emotions from crowdfunding
However, this influx of cash from patrons almost immediately led to some major guilt.
“The actual process of writing the novel took a lot longer than I thought,” wrote Fruhlinger. “This was very stressful to me; I felt like I was letting all my backers down, and with the very, very large amount of money I raised being very, very public, I worried that people would think I had scammed everyone out of an awful lot of cash.”
Still, he finished his book, and is happy with the final product.
In his post, he offered some learned lessons to those who might be interested in trying their own campaign to fund their novel.
Lessons learned from Kickstarting a book
- The secret to a successful Kickstarter doesn’t start with Kickstarter. A large number of his backers were already fans of his work and his site. Tap into your audience! If you don’t have an audience, build one.
- Write your book first. Fruhlinger noted that this would have drastically cut down on his anxiety.
- Do your best to estimate costs in advance and be conservative. Printing costs turned out to be more than Fruhlinger expected.
- Professional services aren’t cheap!
- Don’t bet on big sales if you don’t need to. Fruhlinger noted he’s been left with more leftover stock than he would have liked. Consider print-on-demand.
- Offer your backers big-ticket items. “People who are backing you are likely to be invested in you and want you to succeed, so a personal touch like that is something they’ll enjoy and appreciate,” he said.
After reading about Fruhlinger’s experience, it’s easy to see the appeal of crowdsourcing.
I’ve used Indiegogo before to fund a creative project, and while my campaign was successful, there’s still some complicated feelings that can come from asking for, and being given, financial support. Strings can feel attached, even when they truly aren’t. I have built a good base of loyal readers, but I still don’t think I would feel comfortable asking them to pay for the creation of my first book.
What do you think — would you do a crowdfunding campaign for your novel?